All mosquitoes can be a huge nuisance, but this doesn’t mean that all mosquitoes are the same. In fact, there are well over 3,000 different species of mosquitoes found around the world, nearly 200 of which are known to call North America home. Some of these species are mostly harmless, while other types are much more prone to carrying certain types of potentially deadly diseases. For this reason, it’s important to look at the various species and where they are generally found, as this helps to explain why certain mosquito-borne illnesses are more common in some areas.
The most common group of mosquitoes in the United States is referred to simply as house flies. This group includes several species in the Culex genus, both of which can transmit a number of different parasites and viruses to people and animals.
These mosquitoes are usually light-brown colored with small white stripes, and they are often found in areas with stagnant water. Old tires, bird baths, storm drains and other standing water sources are ideal breeding grounds for house mosquitoes and many other types, and each female can lay anywhere from 50 to 500 eggs at a time. Like most species, house mosquitoes typically only feed at night.
Asian Tiger Mosquitoes
Aedes albopictus, more commonly known as the Asian Tiger mosquito, this species was first discovered in the US in 1985 and has since spread to most parts of the country. As the name suggests, these mosquitoes feature bright white stripes all over their body.
They behave quite differently than house mosquitoes in that they are daytime feeders and only lay their eggs in clean water, such as in flowerpots or bird feeders. The larvae hatch and mature quickly, often leading to a large influx after strong rains. Luckily, they are not strong flyers and are unlikely to be found more than a half-mile from their breeding site.
This species is known to carry over 30 diseases, although only a few of them pose a threat to humans, such as LaCrosse, St. Louis and equine encephalitis viruses, dengue and Cache Valley virus.
A close relative of house mosquitoes, southern mosquitoes are found across the southern states and are particularly concentrated in Florida. Also from the Culex genus, this species shares many common traits with house mosquitoes, including their appearance and the fact that they’re nighttime feeders. Southern mosquitoes can sometimes carry the West Nile virus and are the primary transmitter of St. Louis encephalitis.
Yellow Fever Mosquitoes
These are closely related to Asian Tiger mosquitoes, and as such, are generally in direct competition with them. This has led to the population of yellow fever mosquitoes declining due to the rise of the other species. However, this is generally a good thing since they are the primary source of yellow fever and a number of other potentially deadly illnesses. Still, they are quite common in urban areas throughout the south.
This list is really only the tip of the iceberg, as there are a number of other disease-carrying insect species found throughout the country. Of course, there is no way for most people to quickly identify which species just bit them and thus which potential illnesses they could be at risk of developing. Therefore, it is always important to practice proper mosquito control to help keep these pests at bay.